To: All SSCA Members, Associate Members and Families
Welcome to the summer of 2016. In honor of the Georgian Bay Association’s (GBA) 100th Anniversary, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight how the GBA is helping the SSCA achieve our objective of protecting and preserving Georgian Bay by highlighting some of their accomplishments: Past, Present and Future.
Past: From the GBA’s beginning, protecting the environment has been one of the key areas of focus. The GBA was formed one hundred years ago because people recognized then that a consortium of cottage associations had more influence than just one association. As members of the GBA we make up a group of almost three thousand families from nineteen member associations and together can and have influenced decision makers.
The GBA has a long list of accomplishments since its inception including: blasting and marking the inner boat channel in the early 1900s, pushing for sanitation standards and inspection for cottages (before the era of septic tanks), protecting the native fishery by lobbying against the use of hoop net fishing in the 20s and pushing for limits on bass fishing in the 40s. More recently they helped establish the Township of the Archipeago and the outer boat channel to reduce traffic in front of our cottages.
Past GBA Presidents and Honorary Life Members have played instrumental roles in the founding of new organizations to work in concert with the GBA to protect and preserve Georgian Bay. In 1991 Wally King led the charge in founding the Georgian Bay Land Trust, a charity designed to protect land in Georgian Bay through acquisition and stewardship. In 1995 Roy Schatz played an important role in founding the GBA Foundation (now Georgian Bay Forever). GBF is a charity that protects water with a focus on water levels, water quality, ecosystems and invasive species.
In 2004 Pat Northey helped secure a UNESCO designation for a large portion of the eastern shore of Georgian Bay and in doing so created the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. GBA lobbied for the establishment of the Eastern Georgian Bay stewardship Council in 2004. This Council focuses on the protection of the native fishery on the Bay through education, building and re-establishing fish spawning habitat and stocking of native fish. The GBA and these organizations are referred to as the GB5.
Present: The GBA is continuing to engage with government and other non-government organizations to maintain water levels in their historic healthy range. With Climate Change in full swing we haven’t seen the last of extreme swings in water levels. With the GBA’s help we will continue to influence the government to do whatever it can to protect our Great Lakes water resource.
Water quality is always a concern and something that GBA works hard with Georgian Bay Forever and the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve as well as local municipalities to monitor and identify causes for areas of deterioration. One piece of the water quality puzzle is aquaculture which introduces large amounts of phosphate into the water.
While attending the recent Georgian Bay Association 100th Anniversary meeting I was reminded yet again what a special place Georgian Bay is. Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, reminded us that Georgian Bay is a spiritual place that has been sacred to First Nation people for centuries, and now it is to us. The Honourable Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, spoke about the negative environmental impact our “civilization” has had on Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes over the last 100 years. Parts of Georgian Bay that were once pristine are now suffering from the impact of our poor stewardship. He challenged us to reverse this trend.
Future: Through a strategy of working together in concert with other GB5 organizations, the GBA will continue to influence a variety of municipal, provincial and federal government organizations to find positive solutions. Working with the GBA we will accomplish more than the SSCA could have on our own.
On behalf of the Board, I wish you a wonderful summer in 2016. We look forward to seeing you at some of our events: pot luck dinners, regatta, and our Annual General Meeting and Members Lunch on Saturday July 23rd.